It’s no longer enough to just unfriend the bigots that you went to highschool with. Now, more than ever, we need to give ourselves the tools to be able to fight for trans rights, to educate and empower those around us and to correct our actions built from bad habits.
We are all hurtling through space together, occupying this big wet rock that we call home. A home that is supposed to be for every living creature, but recently there have been some terrible forces at work that have left the trans community feeling unaccepted and shamed for being their true selves. Many of us have made declarations of being an ally to the trans community, but we need to act beyond making a statement and start to adjust the way that we think, act and behave in society.
Adjusting our behaviour and becoming a role model to others who are looking to do better is one of the best things you can do to support the trans community. Donating to local charities is also helpful, but showing your support in every day actions is something you can start right now:
Move toward gender neutral language
This won’t happen overnight, but start observing your language habits. For example, if you often say “hey guys!” try to substitute in something more neutral like, hey everyone! Hey all! Hey folks! Hey friends! Or even just hey! This one is tricky but I know you (guys) can do it!
Stop using gendered pronouns
Not sure what pronoun to use for someone? Stay neutral! We can never assume preferred pronouns, and this is not something that can be determined by looking at a person. Using ‘they’ and ‘their’ is a great way to stay neutral and unassuming in your language.
Don’t make assumptions
Gender identity is different than sexual orientation, and you should never make assumptions about who someone may be attracted to. Transgender people can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight, and just like anyone else it isn’t any of your business.
Respect the terminology
There are many different terms to describe transgender experiences (transgender, transsexual, non-binary, genderqueer etc.), and it can take time to figure out what feels right for someone. If someone is not sure where they fit in, give them space and time to figure it out for themselves.
Avoid backhanded compliments
Even with the best of intentions, it’s possible to create a negative and hurtful experience. Here are few example of ‘best intended’ comments that are not okay:
"I would have never known you were transgender. You look so pretty."
"You look just like a real woman."
"She's so gorgeous, I would have never guessed she was transgender."
"He's so hot. I'd date him even though he's transgender."
"You're so brave."
"You'd pass so much better if you wore less/more make-up, had a better wig, etc."
"Have you considered a voice coach?"
Challenge anti-transgender remarks or jokes in public spaces.
Most people want to do better but don’t know how or don’t understand how their words can be hurtful. Help to educate those around you by being a good role model and continuing to learn and be open minded.